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"Why would a software company not just build that? It's a ~1 engineer job?" Software companies find it difficult to reliably staff one-offs.

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Embed Patrick McKenzie @patio11 Follow Read on Twitter

Companies are not built to hire *one* engineer with lots of autonomy. They're built to hire 8 engineers and a team lead w/ a reporting line.

It *breaks all sorts of things* to have one engineer as the dangling node on the org chart. Who manages them? CTO? Hah, hah, doesn't work.

It's very hard to *keep* that engineer because their career options get radically curtailed; they get perfectly shaped for current job.

Smart engineers don't want to be doing the same thing at the same level forever, but that's what the business actually needs.

There's also no fallback plan if e.g. the engineer takes a new job, gets married and moves, etc etc. Bus number of 1 is terrifying.

If you're having difficulty visualizing, the general pattern is "We just need one dev for email. One dev for analytics. One dev for BTC."

(It would be a terrible idea to employ a non-zero number of engineers for BTC but BTC is a classic example of deep, narrow specialization.)

So what do companies, which know that ~1 engineer is not realistic, do? They either hire consultancies or buy "solutions", at higher cost.

You can totally be the person selling those things, if you understand the business context and can provide ~1 engineer of work.

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